“The Red Flux & the Wunderkind Thief” | Chapter Two | Written by McConnaughay | 2 - Mishmashers Mishmashers

“The Red Flux & the Wunderkind Thief” | Chapter Two | Written by McConnaughay | 2

2

Secrat Copé sat handcuffed to a chair.

His head still hurt, but it was better. He hadn’t the faintest clue how he had gotten himself into this predicament. Lukas Lewis tried to explain it all to him earlier, but his head ached too much to listen. Since then, he had sobered up from his stupor and was ready to hear rhyme and reason. Reason appeared to be giving him the silent treatment.

There was no one-home for The Red Flux. They traveled as a troupe, and when they were together, that was home enough. That wasn’t where Lukas had taken Copé, however.

This wasn’t The Red Flux, wide-open and free.

This was a small, desolate, and dreary cabin. It smelled damp with the odor of mold and cedar, and there was fungus sealing the jamb of the door on the other side of the room. The chair Copé was shackled to rested on the wall opposite the door. The thief tilted his head, resting it some on his shoulder. A small window engulfed by moss was to his left, small crack in the top-right corner of the glass. Copé forgot about it and laid his head back against the wall. It brought a stinging sensation, but he didn’t care. It was worth being able to rest his head.

The door to the cabin started to be cracked opened. The force it took to push it open meant there was no way it could have been done discreetly. Secrat flinched fast, rattling the handcuffs as he did so.

He wasn’t afraid.

It was more to say that he was caught off-guard. The man entered the room, taking note of how grimy and smudged the walls looked. He walked with a purpose. His dark black boots damn-near worn to the sole.

It was Father Toucan Veras.

Toucan walked the way Copé wanted to walk. The thief had far too much ego to come to grips with that fact, but it was true. The leader of the Red Flux had presence about him like nobody he had ever seen before. When he entered the room, eyes lent themselves to him. They belonged to him, like a showman thief, stealing the attention off whoever else was in the room and putting it on himself. A bald head and a thick black beard, a large sword sat at his side in a scabbard. Olea is what he called the blade, named after the murderer of his deceased wife. The sword was enormous, shaped and structured like a scimitar with a deep curve at the end. Gifted with an enormous blade, Toucan made the sword look like one of Copé’s knives.

A hyperbole, but the statement stood. Father Veras was a hefty size.

He was the type that was wise about concealing it as well. The rest of The Flux wore armors pillaged from either one of the five major cities; Toucan wore baggy robes. Nobody had too much of an idea how muscular he was.

Concealment made him easy to underestimate.

Toucan closed the door behind him before turning his attention over to the restrained thief. Copé wanted to rub the nape of his neck or clasp his hands over his head out of distress and discomfort, but he could do neither. Toucan’s eyes were cold and serious. The white of his eyes blood-shot and the rest looked black as night. “You’ve really outdone yourself on this one, Copé.” No inflection in his voice.

Toucan’s temper and intimidation were well-noted. He rarely showed it, but when he did, it was bad enough for nobody to soon forget. Copé felt no fear, not particularly. He felt discomfort and vulnerability. Which was almost the same.

Everything was starting to piece itself together for him. His recent traumas blocked some of it out, but he had no doubt the reason he was keyed to a chair was for the murder of a fellow Flux. Lukas Lewis brought him here after and confessed Father the sins of his adopted son, and now, Toucan was here to pass his judgment.

“Why, Father, its fancy meeting you here, very, in-fact. I wish you would have mailed in a letter about your arrival, for, I haven’t cleaned the place in ages! Over there, you’ll notice the lovely décor, most vivaciously inscribed walls, marked and scrawled with sharp precision by fungi!” Secrat offered up a cocky smirk. His heart wasn’t in the sarcasm, but he tried his best not to let that show. For his Father’s sake, of course. Even beyond all the other responsibilities Toucan had to contend with, like keeping the troupe together or being a strong leader, Copé was his son.

The young thief was born and readied before them, poised for greatness, and Father would fight above all else to protect him. But Toucan looked at Secrat Copé with a strange look on his face, a look that signified confusion or bewilderment. Copé maintained his smile.

There was simply no way his father could stay mad at him.

Then, in one loving swoop, Toucan proved otherwise, swinging his fist like a club to Copé’s face. This wasn’t the smack a father gave his son when he stepped out of line. The punch felt more like something Copé might have expected from a sworn enemy. The chair flipped over to its side off the impact, and with Copé handcuffed to the front left-leg of the chair, everything came down, crushing his hand. Copé let out a cry of anguish.

“Elson Mans, does that name sound familiar to you!?”

Some inflection was in his voice now; it was anger and brewing frustration. Copé continued to whimper at the pain in his left hand. He had confronted a lot of pain in a day. He hadn’t enjoyed any of it.

But on the bright side, thanks to a newly discovered “bendability” to his hand, he was able to free himself from one of the handcuffs. The bottom of the chair leg was thicker than at the top, had that not been the case, he could have freed himself from the other. Toucan mumbled something under his breath. He didn’t seem at all amused by his son’s master escape.

“Put out your hand,” Toucan whispered softly.

Secrat refused. He hid his hand like an animal hiding meat from a rival pack.

“Put out your hand,” he repeated. The statement carried more weight than it should have. If Toucan wanted to hurt Copé, he would have. This was his way of letting Copé have the choice. Copé put his hand in the air in-front of Toucan.

“Uh-ah, on the floor,” Toucan said, almost sounding nurturing and loving.

“Flat.”

Copé did as he was told. He put his hand down on the floor, flat. It looked like his thumb and index finger were already badly swollen.

Toucan raised his large boot up. Copé braced himself but didn’t pull away. His father drove it down on Copé’s mangled hand. The yell from Copé was loud. He whimpered loudly soon after like a baby, hyperventilating and tearful. His head lying manically twitching against the floor and the chair carried on his back. There was no reason to Toucan’s statement. He wasn’t looking for signs Copé wanted to be forgiven or felt remorse. He merely wanted to hurt him some more.

“I don’t want to hear your comments!” Toucan yelled. It was a wet-yell, unrestrained and crackly. He talked plainly after: “I don’t want to see that smirk on your face. I don’t want to see any of it. Last night was the most disgraceful night for The Red Flux. Do you know?” Veras stopped. He couldn’t seem to find the words in his blind rage. “I sent Lukas to finish stealing one of the biggest hauls we’ve ever had. Do you know how many mouths that would have fed? Of course not, in-fact, that doesn’t ever even cross your mind. None of that benefits you, and thus, it doesn’t faze you.”

If Toucan would have made eye-contact to Copé, he would have seen

Copé was too busy whimpering over his gestating anguish to give a damn.

“Lukas, little Luke, … we’ve known him since he was a small child, since you were a small child,” Toucan stopped once more and looked over at Copé for the first time since beginning his little speech. Apparently looking to obtain some sort-of emotional effect, his eyes looked even more haggard and bloodshot up closely. “He woke me up to tell that my son, who I picked up off the streets when he had nothing, was responsible for the death of a fellow member.”

Copé stopped trying to squirm free from the chair for a moment and looked up at Father. “If they were supposed to be doing this ‘big haul’,” Copé tried to stress the part with hand-gestures but failed terribly, “then why did they become involved in mine? I was there for Azlak Temps.”

Toucan continued to look at Copé as he spoke: “They found you in the house of Gruff Helms. His bloody remains lay not far away.” He turned his back from the young thief and walked over toward the window, transfixed on the moss. “You never bothered with names or specifics, you just acted, always have,” he said, and then, with finality added: “But this time, you went too far.” “I made a mistake.” Copé admitted. He didn’t like that; admitting fault. “You know how many mistakes others in The Red Flux have made? Tell me how many times someone went looking for coin and came back with nothing more than the horse they left on? In-fact, you should be thanking me, I killed that son of a bitch! A feat that I shall stress was no easy-task, and only made it easier for them to steal the riches off the bastard. They ransacked the place, sooner or later, they found the combination … they found the treasures. You’re welcome.”

“They weren’t able to find it. They were sent to extort the riches from him.

We had something on him. As it turns out, his money wasn’t exactly the cleanliest, and if the rest of Acera had wind of that, he would have been ripped apart and had his head put on a pike. Lukas said that they were really concerned about you. All you had was a concussion, but you looked worse than that. Like you were about to kill-over and weren’t in your right mind. But that doesn’t excuse what you did, Copé.”

“He won’t be missed.”

“That isn’t the fucking point!” Toucan yelled. His eyes grew wider, redder with rage than disappointment. Copé could even see the veins in his neck beginning to pop out. “We don’t kill in The Red Flux. This isn’t something to keep us from finding misfortune. It’s a matter of morals, something that I am starting to feel like I failed to stress while raising you.”
“What does that mean?”

“It means that in one-night, you killed a brother. And you killed two people beforehand. You don’t belong with us.”

Copé’s ears pricked once he heard those words. An influx of fear started inside of him. There was nothing else for him. A thief was all that he knew how to be. It was his home. The Red Flux was his home. Toucan Veras turned his back and started away from Secrat, but the thief wouldn’t accept that. Copé crawled with the chair still attached to him. He grabbed Toucan’s ankle with his uninjured hand and pleaded with him. “Please, please, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” it was lies, and Copé knew it, bet Toucan knew it as well, but he didn’t care, all he cared about was having his way. He couldn’t deal without the troupe. His father looked to have little sympathy for him. His eyes seemed apathetic and uncaring, but Copé knew there had to be something beneath all of that. He had to be hiding his feelings. Copé was his son, dammit.

Secrat looked in his eyes. Tears streamed down Copé’s cheeks, dripping down his chin and dampening the wood floor. Almost entirely because the pain that he felt in his left hand. Toucan didn’t know that. To him, Copé felt deep remorse for his actions.

Toucan dropped to one knee and looked at Copé. “Find a way to right your wrongs,” he said somberly. “I don’t know how you’ll do it, and I wouldn’t tell you if I did. This is your mistake, and now it is up for you to find your way.”

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